It was about a month ago, and there are still days that I struggle with the decision I’ve made: I quit pumping breast milk for my twins. I did this quietly; I didn’t discuss it with anyone but my husband. I think this was mostly out of shame.
I had a goal to pump until my girls were six months old, and at the time it seemed like a perfectly attainable goal. I’ve read of mothers, some of them even twin moms, who boast of how they exclusively breast fed, or exclusively pumped, for a year or more. Hats off to you mamas, I just couldn’t do it. To be fair, most of these moms didn’t work outside of the home, and I do. I leave my house every weekday at 7am, and don’t return until 5:30pm, and during that 10.5 hour time frame, I was only able to pump once. Any mother who has breastfed or pumped knows this is a recipe for failure.
It started with me deciding to drop my lunch time pumping session at work. It involved me washing pump parts, packing them up, and hauling them to work with me each day. It required rushed lunches, and awkwardly shoving food in my face, with my breasts out, and tubes all in the way. It meant that the only break I got during my work day, wasn’t a break at all. As I had mentioned before, my supply tanked when I went back to work; so I was only getting 4 oz during my lunch time pump. One day I just decided I would stop. Just like that, my day became a little less stressful.
I told myself that even though I stopped pumping at lunch, I would still pump before and after work. After the third day in a row of hitting the snooze button too many times, I found myself hooked up to my breast pump, in the bathroom, while I put my makeup on before work. I even used the battery pack a few times, so I could walk around packing my lunch, change the girls, and let the dogs out, all while pumping.
Everyone knows that in order for moms to produce breast milk, they must get enough sleep, drink enough water, and eat enough. That last one is what led to me finally quitting altogether. I’m a twin mom, of course I don’t get enough sleep. Eat? You mean cook meals? And eat them? When? My nightly solo routine became coming home, snuggles, trying to pump while also trying to feed the girls and keep them content. Then it was bath time, and bed time. Suddenly it’s 8:30, husband is due home from work soon, and I haven’t even thought about dinner yet. I sent a picture to my husband one night, it was me, with my pump on the counter, and I was cutting up vegetables for dinner. While that might sound slightly bad-ass of me, it was in no way practical.
I was so stressed over “having” to pump, work full time, keep my house livable, feed myself meals, and spend time with my girls. So I just didn’t pump one night. I came home, I giggled and snuggled my girls for an hour, I fed them, I got them bathed and into pajamas, I even read them a bed time story. Then I took a deep breath, and I relaxed, while I decided what we should have for dinner that night; and it was only 7:30pm.
The next morning I pumped, and even after not pumping for 24 hours, I only pumped 5 oz. I put my sad amount of breast milk in the fridge, only enough for one bottle. The next morning I did the same, and then told my sister to give the girls the breast milk in the fridge, that it would probably be the last that they got.
I’ve battled with the guilt I’ve felt over quitting; actually I’m still battling it. Why couldn’t I do what other moms have done? I’m not even solely comparing myself to singleton moms. I’m comparing myself to the extra super twin moms (because really, we’re all super moms) who have managed to breast feed their twins for over a year. I only had a goal of six months, and I quit at four months. I quit, and I’m a better mother and wife because of it. I no longer feel the constant stress of having to work my life around pumping. I no longer feel like I’m trapped by my breast pump. I’ve even nursed my girls a few times since, because even though I stopped pumping a month ago, I still have a small supply of milk.
My girls turned five months old last Saturday. They smile, they baby talk, they reach for things, they try so hard to hold their own bottles, and I’ve almost gotten a laugh or two out of them a few times. They’ve somehow avoided the cold that so many of my mom friends endured with their babies. They’ve nearly tripled their birth weights, and they (mostly) sleep through the night. All this, and they only exclusively got breast milk for a few weeks of their lives.
Even as I write this, I’m still defending my decision, which is silly. I know that I’m a good mom, and that I made a choice that was best for my family, and my sanity.